Community News

#GEANTwomeninSTEM: Heather Flanagan



In honour of Women & Girls in Science Day and International Women’s Day, we are celebrating the women in our community. As our wonder women are involved in many fields, we decided to focus on specific fields and this year we are highlighting the women in Trust & Identity! Like everything in the world of GÉANT, our trust and identity team is a strong collaboration between women (and men!) all over the globe.

There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to our colleagues working for T&I, which shows perfectly in this series.

Let us introduce you to Heather Flanaganjack(quelin) of all trades.



Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Heather Flanagan, and I am doing a variety of work at Spherical Cow Consulting. I am a RFC Series Editor, REFEDS Coordinator, IDPro Principal Editor, RA21 coordinator and more.

What is your study and professional background?

I obtained my BA at Agnes Scott College, my MSLS at University of Chapel Hill and have been working in the IT sector for 24 years.

What made you pursue a career in STEM?

I ended up in STEM somewhat by accident. Upon graduating from the library science program at UNC-Chapel Hill, I went to work for a small research division with the local newspaper. This was the mid-nineties and the dot-com boom was in full swing, and the same newspaper was spinning up an ISP. There were no trained people to hire, so they just looked around for reasonably bright people to hire, and I was quickly brought on by the ISP to be their bulletin board system operator. Three months later, I was their DNS administrator. The month after that, I took on their Sendmail environment. I haven’t left IT since!

Are there any challenge(s) you face as a woman in STEM (personal, in the sector, in T&I)?

The challenges I face are really fairly common. Externally, being taken seriously as a contributor rather than a convenient secretary. Internally, doubt about my ability to do the work I set out to do (never mind that I’ve done it successfully for over twenty years).

What is it you do in the field of T&I?

I do quite a bit: coordination, facilitation, management, strategic guidance on how to organise new projects and working groups, and how to publish technical documentation. I use my role as an independent contractor to bridge a wide variety of groups and organisations working in T&I and standards, groups that might otherwise not know of the work going on outside their own efforts.

Name your greatest experience or achievement in T&I work

It’s not really any one thing. It’s how I successfully and repeatedly bring communities together to help improve the Internet and the world. I’ve brought the scholarly publishing community and the academic identity federation community closer together. I’ve promoted and encouraged participation from Asia, South America, and Africa in the identity federation community. I’ve worked across a variety of standards organisations to help advance interoperability and access to the standards relevant to each others work. It’s never going to be any one thing: it’s always going to be about how I enable and encourage collaboration.

Any inspiring words for our readers?

There are always ways to participate. Whether it’s in a support role or as a visionary, collaborations and organisations need a variety of perspectives (whether they realise it or not). Go do what you can, and you’ll help improve the world.


From all the men and women at GÉANT, we would like to show our gratitude to the female career tigers, young professionals, researchers, students, mothers, experts, in short all the hard working women contributing to not only trust and identity, but all the work we are doing in R&E networking.

Make sure to keep an eye on the GÉANT blog and social media channels and follow the campaign under #GEANTwomeninSTEM.

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